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We offer cloud-based accounting solutions. Using good technology saves time. With the power of cloud accounting in your hands, you can access accurate real-time data on the go, accept instant payments and even automate repetitive tasks like invoicing. Fast, easy, touch-of-a-button software can make a real difference to the way you run your business.
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Welcome to Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd
We offer a personal service and welcome new clients.
We are a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants
and tax advisors in Derby helping businesses
From start-up to exit & everything in-between.
Whether you’re struggling with company formation,
annual accounts and taxation, payroll or VAT you can
count on us at every step of your business’s journey. For
If you are looking for a Derby accountant then please contact us.
If you are starting your own business, running it as a sole trader is the quickest and easiest way to do it. However, you will have unlimited liability which means you are personally responsible for business debts.
Another important aspect is that you are taxed on all the profits with little opportunity for tax planning. This is why most businesses will incorporate as profits increase.
We can support you through business registration and provide advice on all aspects of tax including:
◦ Accounts for HMRC ◦ Self assessment ◦ VAT returns ◦
◦ Payroll services ◦ Tax planning ◦
Partnerships are similar to sole trades, except that they are used when more than one person owns the business.
Each profit share is determined by the partners and best practice is to record this in a partnership agreement.
With partnerships each partner has joint and several liability for the debts of the partnership, so that if one partner cannot pay their share of any business debts, the debt will fall on the other partners.
Setting up a partnership agreement from the outset is essential.
Corporate tax planning can result in significant improvements in your bottom line. Our services will help to minimise your corporate tax exposure.
We are a member firm of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Self assessment tax returns are becoming increasingly complex and failing to submit your return on time, or correctly, can result in substantial penalties.
We use the latest tax software to ensure that tax returns are completed efficiently, accurately and on-time.
Self assessment: Taking
away the hassles of tax
We provide a comprehensive personal tax compliance service for individuals that includes:
Invoicing your contracting work through a limited company is tax efficient. We will advise you on how to structure your contract to minimise IR35 risk. We will ensure you claim all the expenses that you are entitled to and work out if you can save money by joining the VAT Flat Rate Scheme. We will complete your accounts and tax returns and provide you with clarity over your tax payments.
Included in the service • IRIS KashFlow + Snap • Annual accounts • Corporate tax return • Personal tax return • Payroll • Dividend administration • VAT returns • Contract reviews • Dealing with HMRC
VAT • is one of the most complex tax regimes imposed on business. We provide a cost effective service including assistance with registration & completing your returns.
Payroll • Administering your payroll can be time consuming. We provide a comprehensive payroll service.
Your Payroll Solution
Construction Industry Scheme • CIS returns & payments
Book-keeping • Maintenance of accounting records
Provision of management accounts
For more about these services please contact us.
Keeping the Books
If your business does not require a statutory audit then our Assurance Service will provide reassurance that your accounts stand up to close scrutiny from your bank or other finance providers.
Work is tailored to your specific requirements and the level of confidence that you are looking to achieve and will provide credibility to your accounts by the issuing of an assurance review report.
Adrian Mooy & Co is a registered auditor with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
We strive to provide an auditing service that adds more value than merely the statutory compliance requirement of an audit.
We tailor the audit to meet your circumstances and needs. Using the latest techniques and software we deliver a cost-effective audit that provides real value.
Before starting out you may need help with business planning, cash flow and profit & loss forecasts.
You may also want help identifying the best structure for your business. From sole trades and partnerships to limited companies and limited liability partnerships, we have the experience to advise on the best solution for you both operationally and from a tax point of view.
We also advise on accounting software selection, profit improvement, profit extraction & tax saving.
If you wish to know more about our Business Start-up service please contact us on 01332 202660.
Accountancy and taxation of property is a specialist area. We have the expertise and experience to work effectively with private landlords and property investors. We deal with self-assessment tax, accounts preparation & tax advice for all aspects of property portfolios.
Whether you are a first time buy to let landlord or a long established developer we will discuss and understand your situation in order to advise and recommend the most appropriate medium through which to carry out your property investments. We will guide you through the accounting and tax issues and help you to plan effectively.
We take the time to explain your accounts to you so that you understand what is going on in your business.
Up to date, relevant and quickly produced management information for better control.
As part of our accounts service we prepare your annual accounts and complete yearly personal and business tax returns.
As your year-end approaches we will agree a timetable with you for completion of the accounts that minimises disruption to your business and leaves no late surprises when it comes to your tax liabilities.
We can also prepare management accounts to help you run your business and make effective business decisions. Management accounts are also very useful when approaching lending institutions when no year end accounts are available. We offer:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
We understand the issues facing owner-managed businesses.
We provide advice on personal tax & planning opportunities.
Running a small business places many demands on your time. We can help lift the load with our complete payroll service.
Designed to ease your administrative burden, our service removes what is often a time consuming task, leaving you free to concentrate on managing your business.
We can also prepare your benefits and expenses forms and advise you of any filing requirements and national insurance due. Benefits and expenses can be a complicated area and knowing what to report can be tricky.
We can file all your in-year and year end returns with HMRC and provide you with P60s to distribute to your employees at the year end.
We also offer a solution to meet your auto-enrolment obligations.
Businesses dealing with the requirements of VAT legislation will agree that this is often a complex area.
Our compliance services offer support for all stages of completing your VAT returns, whether you need advice on the treatment of specific transactions or have produced your records and would like verification that they are correct.
We can also advise on the pros and cons of voluntary registration, extracting maximum benefit from the rules on de-registration and the Flat rate VAT scheme.
Our consultancy service guides you through the intricacies of the legislation, pinpointing areas where you may be able to relieve or partly relieve the cost of VAT for your business, for example when purchasing new equipment or undertaking new projects such as property development.
For a meeting to discuss VAT and obtain further advice please call us on 01332 202660.
We can conduct a full tax review of your business and determine the most efficient tax structure for you.
We give personal tax advice to a wide variety of individuals, including higher rate tax payers, company directors & sole traders.
We can assist with:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
Understand your needs
Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.
We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.
Build a relationship
Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.
Confirm your expectations
Our aim is to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.
Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.
Understand your needs
Confirm your expectations
Build a relationship
Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time. Eddie Morris
Call us on 01332 202660
Getting ready for off-payroll working changes
From 6 April 2020 the off-payroll working rules that have applied since 6 April 2017 where the end client is a public sector body are to be extended to large and medium private sector organisations who engage workers providing their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company.
There are tax and National Insurance advantages to working ‘off-payroll’ for both the engager and the worker. The typical off-payroll scenario is the worker providing his or her services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company. Providing services via an intermediary is only a problem where the worker would be an employee of the end client if the services were provided directly to that end client. In this situation, the IR35 off-payroll anti-avoidance rules apply and the intermediary (typically a personal service company) should work out the deemed payment arising under the IR35 rules and pay the associated tax and National Insurance over to HMRC.
Compliance with IR35 has always been a problem and it is difficult for HMRC to police. In an attempt to address this, responsibility for deciding whether the rules apply was moved up to the end client where this is a public sector body with effect from 6 April 2017. Where the relationship is such that the worker would be an employee if the services were supplied direct to the public sector body, the fee payer (either the public sector end client or a third party, such as an agency) must deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the intermediary.
These rules are to be extended from 6 April 2020 to apply where the end client is a large or medium-sized private sector organisation. This will apply if at least two of the following apply:
Where the end client is ‘small’, the IR35 rules apply as now, with the intermediary remaining responsible for determining whether they apply and working out the deemed payment if they do.
Getting ready for the changes
To prepare for the changes, HMRC recommend that medium and large private sector companies should:
Workers affected by the changes should also consider whether it is worth remaining ‘off-payroll’; providing their services as an employee may be less hassle all round.
Are low emissions cars tax efficient?
Significant changes are being made from 2020-21 to the company car tax benefits-in-kind bands affecting ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).
The taxable benefit arising on a car is calculated using the car’s full manufacturer’s published UK list price, including the full value of any accessories. This figure is then multiplied by the ‘appropriate percentage’, which can be found by reference to the car’s CO2 emissions level. This will give the taxable value of the car benefit. The employee pays income tax on the final figure at their appropriate tax rate: 20% for basic rate taxpayers, 40% for higher rate taxpayers and 45% for additional rate taxpayers. This formula means that in general terms, the lower the C02 emissions of the car, the lower the resulting tax charge will be.
For 2019-20, the appropriate percentage for cars (whether fully electric or not) is 16% for those emitting 50g/km CO2 or below, and 19% for those emitting CO2 of between 51 and 75g/km. This means that the taxable benefit arising on a zero-emissions car costing, say £30,000 is £4,800, with tax payable of £960 for a basic rate taxpayer - for a higher rate taxpayer this equates to tax payable of £1,920.
By way of comparison, a 2001cc petrol-engine car with a list price of £30,000, will attract an appropriate percentage of 37% in 2019-20. This equates to a taxable benefit charge of £11,100, and a liability of £2,220 a year for a basic rate taxpayer.
New bands - In April 2020, new ULEV rates will be introduced, and the most tax efficient cars will be those with CO2 emissions below 50g/km. There will also be additional financial incentives for electric only cars
From 2020-21, five new bandings are being introduced for full and hybrid electric cars. Fully electric (zero emissions) cars will attract an appropriate percentage of just 2%. This means that the tax benefit arising on an electric car costing say, £30,000 will be just £600. The resulting tax payable by a basic rate taxpayer will be £120 a year and £240 for a higher rate taxpayer.
For cars emitting CO2 between 1-50g/km, the percentage will depend on the car’s electric range:
130 miles or more 2%
70 – 129 miles 5%
40-69 miles 8%
30-39 miles 12%
Less than 30 miles 14%
ULEVs with CO2 emissions of between 50g-74g/km CO2 will be on a graduated scale from 15% to 19% (diesel-only vehicles will continue to attract a further 4% surcharge) as follows:
CO2 emissions Percentage
51 to 54g/km 15%
55 to 59g/km 16%
60 to 64g/km 17%
65 to 69g/km 18%
70 to 74g/km 19%
75 or more 20%
Plus 1% per 5g/km
Up to a maximum 37%
Whilst the journey towards ‘greener’ driving has been, and continues to be, a rocky one, in 2014/15 a sub-130g/km petrol car was considered green enough to merit an 18% appropriate percentage. However, by 2020/21, the appropriate percentage on such a car will have risen to 30%. A sub-100g/km band car that was only subject to a 12% charge in 2014/15 will also have risen to 24% by 2020/21. On the other hand, clean air all-electric cars will finally plummet to 2% under the new company car tax incentives from April 2020.
The incentives are clearly designed to encourage ULEVs as a company car driver’s car of choice.
Electricity for electric cars – a tax-free benefit
The Government is keen to encourage drivers to make environmentally friendly choices when it comes to choosing a car. As far as the company car tax market is concerned, tax policy is used to drive behaviour, rewarding drivers choosing lower emission cars with a lower tax charge, while penalising those whose choices are less green.
The use of the tax system to nudge drivers towards embracing electric cars also applies in relation to the taxation of ‘fuel’. As a result, tax-free benefits on are offer to those drivers who choose to ‘go electric’.
Company car drivers
Electricity is not a ‘fuel’ for the purposes of the fuel benefit charge. This means that where an employee has an electric company car, the employer can meet the cost of all the electricity used in the car, including that for private journeys, without triggering a fuel benefit charge. This can offer significant savings when compared with the tax bill that would arise if the employer pays for the private fuel for a petrol or diesel car. However, it should be noted that a fuel charge may apply in relation to hybrid models.
Maisy has an electric company car with a list price of £20,000. Her employer meets the cost of all electricity used in the car, including that for private motoring. As electricity is not a fuel for these purposes, there is no fuel benefit charge, and Maisy is enabled to enjoy her private motoring tax-free.
By way of comparison, the taxable benefit that would arise if the employer meets the cost of private motoring in a petrol or diesel company car with an appropriate percentage of 22% would be £5,302 (£24,100 @ 22%) for 2019/20. The associated tax bill would be £1,060.40 for a basic rate taxpayer and £2,120.80 for a higher rate taxpayer.
However, the rules do not mean that an employee loses out if they have an electric company car and initially meets the cost of electricity for business journeys and reclaim it from their employer. There is now an advisory fuel rate for electricity which allows employers to reimburse employees meeting the cost of electricity for business journeys at a rate of 4p per mile without triggering a tax bill. However, amounts in excess of 4p per mile will be chargeable.
Employees using their own cars
Currently, there is no separate rate for electric cars under the approved mileage payments scheme. This means that the usual rates apply where an employee uses his or her own electric car for business. Consequently, the employer can pay up to 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in the year and 25p per mile for subsequent business miles tax-free. If the employer pays less than this, the employee can claim a deduction for the shortfall. Payments in excess of the approved amounts are taxable.
Employees with their own electric cars can also enjoy the benefit of tax-free electricity for private motoring – but only if they charge their car using a charging point provided by their employer at or near their place of work. The exemption also applies to cars in which the employee is a passenger, so would apply, for example, if an employee’s spouse drove the employee to work, charging their car when dropping the employee off or picking the employee up.
Worthless assets and negligible value claims
Where an asset has been lost or destroyed or the value of the asset has become negligible, it may be possible to take advantage of an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes. It should be noted, however, that the loss will only be an allowable loss if any gain on the disposal of the asset would have been a chargeable gain.
A distinction is drawn between assets that have ceased to exist and those that have become of negligible value.
Assets that have been lost or destroyed - The entire loss, destruction, dissipation or extinction of an asset is treated as a disposal or that asset, regardless of whether or not any compensation is received. The resulting loss is allowable for capital gains tax purposes. If any compensation is received, this is treated as proceeds from the disposal.
Negligible value claim - If the asset still exists but has become of negligible value, as long as one of two conditions – A or B – is met, a negligible value claim can be made by the owner of the asset.
The legislation does not define ‘negligible’ but HMRC take the view that it means that is worth ‘next to nothing’.
Condition A is that the asset has become of negligible value while still owned by the person.
Condition B is that:
• the disposal by which the person acquired the asset was a no gain/no loss disposal (as is the case between spouses and civil partners)
• at the time of that disposal, the asset was of negligible value
• between the time when the asset became of negligible value and the disposal by which the person acquired it, any other disposal of the asset was on a no gain/no loss basis
Asset must still exist - For a negligible value claim to succeed, the asset must exist when the claim is made. If the asset has ceased to exist, for capital gains tax purposes there has been an actual disposal of the asset (as outlined above in relation to assets lost or destroyed).
No time limit - There is no time limit by which a negligible value claim must be made. However, the asset must be of negligible value at the date of the claim. The claimant must be able to demonstrate that the asset became of negligible value while owned by them (or where acquired from a spouse or civil partner in a no gain/no loss disposal, while owned by their spouse or civil partner). Evidence should be retained to support the claim.
Effect of a successful claim - A successful negligible claim gives rise to a deemed disposal of the asset, with the asset immediately being reacquired for the amount specified in the claim. The loss on the deemed disposal is an allowable loss, provided that any gain that had arisen on the disposal of the asset had been an allowable loss. It should be noted that the allowable loss arises from the deemed disposal rather than from the negligible value claim itself.
In certain circumstances where the claim relates to qualifying shares, the loss can be set against income.
Making Tax Digital for VAT – what records must be kept digitally
Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT starts from 1 April 2019. VAT-registered businesses whose turnover is above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 will be required to comply with MTD for VAT from the start of their first VAT accounting period to begin on or after 1 April 2019.
Digital record-keeping obligations
Under MTD for VAT, businesses will be required to keep digital records and to file their VAT returns using functional compatible software. The following records must be kept digitally.
Designatory data - Business name - Address of the principal place of business - VAT registration number - A record of any VAT schemes used (such as the flat rate scheme)
Supplies made - for each supply made: - Date of supply - Value of the supply - Rate of VAT charged
Outputs value for the VAT period split between standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate and outside the scope supplies must also be recorded.
Multiple supplies made at the same time do not need to be recorded separately – record the total value of supplies on each invoice that has the same time of supply and rate of VAT charged.
Supplies received - for each supply received: - The date of supply - The value of the supply, including any VAT that cannot be reclaimed - The amount of input VAT to be reclaimed.
If there is more than one supply on the invoice, it is sufficient just to record the invoice totals.
Digital VAT account
The VAT account links the business records and the VAT return. The VAT account must be maintained digitally, and the following information should be recorded digitally:
In addition, to show the link between the input tax recorded in the business' records and that reclaimed on the VAT return, the following must be recorded digitally:
The information held in the Digital VAT account is used to complete the VAT return using `functional compatible software’. This is software, or a set of compatible software programmes, capable of:
Functional compatible software is used to maintain the mandatory digital records, calculate the return and submit it to HMRC via an API.
Getting ready - The clock is ticking and MTD for VAT is now less than a year away.
Family companies – optimal salary for 2019/20
For personal and family companies it can be beneficial to extract some profits in the form of a salary. Where the individual does not have the 35 qualifying years necessary to qualify for the full single-tier state pension, paying a salary which is equal to or above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes will ensure that the year is a qualifying year.
New tax rates and allowances came into effect from 6 April 2019, applying for the 2019/20 tax year. These have an impact on the optimal salary calculation for family and personal companies. As in previous years, the optimal salary level will depend on whether or not the National Insurance employment allowance is available.
It should be remembered that directors have an annual earnings period for NI purposes.
Employment allowance unavailable - Companies in which the sole employee is also a director are not able to benefit from the employment allowance. This means that most personal companies are not eligible for the allowance. Where the allowance is not available or has been utilised elsewhere, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary and secondary threshold set at £8,632 (equivalent to £719 per month and £166 per week).
At this level, assuming that the director’s personal allowance (set at £12,500) is available, there is no tax or employer’s or employee’s National Insurance to pay. However, as the salary is above the lower earnings limit of £6,136 (£512 per month, £118 per week), it will provide a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes.
The salary is deductible in computing the company’s taxable profits for corporation tax purposes, saving corporation tax of 19%.
Employment allowance is available - It is beneficial to pay a salary equal to the personal allowance (assuming that this is not used elsewhere) where the employment allowance (set at £3,000 for 2019/20) is available to shelter the employer’s National Insurance that would otherwise arise to the extent that the salary exceeds £8,632.
Although employee’s National Insurance is payable to the extent that the salary exceeds the primary threshold of £8,632, this is more than offset by the corporation tax deduction on the higher salary.
For 2019/20, a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 exceeds the primary threshold by £3,868. Therefore, employee’s National Insurance of £464.16 (£3,868 @ 12%) is payable on a salary of £12,500. However, as salary payments are deductible for corporation tax purposes, the additional salary of £3,868 saves corporation tax of £734.92 (£3,868 @ 19%). This exceeds the employee’s National Insurance payable by £270.46.
So paying a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 allows more profits to be retained (to the tune of £270.46) than paying a salary equal to the primary threshold of £8,632.
If the director has a higher personal allowance, for example, where he or she receives the marriage allowance, the optimal salary is one equal to that higher personal allowance.
Director is under 21 - Where the director is under the age of 21, the optimal salary is one equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 regardless of whether the employment allowance is available. No employer National Insurance is payable on the earnings of employees or directors under the age of 21 until their earnings exceeds the upper secondary threshold for under 21's set at £50,000 for 2019/20. Employee contributions are, however, payable as normal
Any benefit in paying a salary above the personal allowance? - Once the personal allowance is reached it is not worthwhile paying a higher salary as further salary payments will be taxed and the combined tax and National Insurance hit will outweigh the corporation tax savings.
Be aware of 60% tax rate risk on bonuses
In the lead up to Christmas and the end of the financial year for many businesses, some directors and employees may be fortunate enough to be thinking of a bonus. If this is the case, it might be worth reviewing things beforehand to see if there is a risk of suffering effective tax rates of up to 60%, and if so, whether this can be avoided.
The risk of paying a high effective tax rate on a bonus stems from the abatement of the personal tax allowance where the individual’s ‘adjusted net income’ is equal to, or above, £100,000 for a particular tax year. The personal tax allowance for 2019/20 is £12,500, but this will be reduced by £1 for every £2 the taxpayer’s income is over that limit. The personal allowance may be reduced to nil from this income limit. Broadly, ‘adjusted net income’ is total taxable income before any personal allowances, less certain tax reliefs (including trading losses, Gift Aid donations, and pension contributions).
As a consequence of the personal allowance abatement rules, a taxpayer with income between £100,000 and approximately £119,000 will suffer marginal tax rates of up to 60% as the personal allowance is withdrawn.
Graham is an employee of a company from which he draws a salary of £100,000 per annum He has no other sources of income. In December 2019 he will be paid a bonus of £7,000. He is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019/20, but he loses £3,500 of it (£1 for every £2 earned over £100,000 ((£107,000 – £100,000) /2)), leaving him with an allowance of £9,000. He will pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, plus an extra £1,400 due to lost allowances (£3,500 × 40%). His total tax attributable to the bonus is therefore £4,200. Graham will therefore pay tax on the bonus at an effective rate of 60% (£4,200/£7,000 x 100).
Hannah on the other hand, receives an annual salary of £125,000 from employment. She also has no other sources of income. Hannah is also expecting to receive a bonus of £7,000 in December 2019. She is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019-20, but she loses entitlement to all of it because her basic salary exceeds the point at which the allowance is fully withdrawn (£125,000). Receiving the bonus, therefore, results in no further adjustment to her personal allowance. She will simply pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, which means that her effective tax rate on that part of his income is only 40%.
So, what action can be taken to minimise exposure to these marginal rates?
Taxpayers with income slightly exceeding the £100,000 ceiling may avoid losing some or all of their personal allowance by taking steps to reduce ‘adjusted net income’ to below the abatement threshold. Options worth considering may include:
• Increasing pension contributions - for example, a taxpayer with income of £105,000 might consider making a pension contribution of £5,000. They will get 40% tax relief on the contribution, and the full personal allowance will be reinstated.
• Making donations to charity under the Gift Aid scheme. For the charity, the donation is assumed to be made net of basic rate tax, which the charity claims back from HMRC. For the taxpayer, their basic rate tax band is increased by the value of the gross donation, which in turn reduces the amount of income to be taxed at the higher rate.
• Consider transferring income-producing assets to a lower-earning spouse or partner.
As with all tax planning opportunities, the wider picture should be considered before taking any action. In particular, the benefits of any tax saving need to outweigh the cost and administrative inconvenience of the transaction.
Nominating your main residence
Private residence relief shelters a gain on the sale of a residence from capital gains tax while the property has been the owner’s only or main residence. Where a property has been an only or main residence at some point, the final period of ownership (currently 18 months but reducing to nine months from 6 April 2020) is also exempt from capital gains tax.
Only one main residence at a time - As the name suggests, the relief is only available in respect of the only or main residence. Thus, where a person has more than one home, only one of those homes can be the ‘main residence’ at any given time.
However, as long as certain conditions are met, the taxpayer is free to choose which property is classed as the ‘main’ residence for capital gains tax purposes – it does not have to be the one in which the owner spends the majority of his or her time.
Only one main residence per couple - A couple who are married or in a civil partnership and who are not separated can only have one main residence between them.
Property must be a residence - Only properties that are lived in as a home can be a ‘main residence’ – a property which is let out can’t be a main residence while it is let.
Making an election - Where a person has only one residence, that residence is their only or main residence. Where they acquire a second residence, they have a period of two years to nominate which residence is the main residence for capital gains tax purposes. Where residences are acquired or sold, the clock starts again from the date on which the particular combination of residences changes, and the taxpayer then has another two years in which to elect which residence is the main residence.
The election should be made in writing to HMRC. The letter should include the full address of the property being nominated as the main residence and should be signed by all owners of the property.
No election made - In the absence of an election, the property which is the main residence will be determined as a question of fact and will be the property in which the person lives in as their main home. For example, if a couple has a family home and a holiday home, in the absence of an election, the family home will be treated as the main residence.
Advantages of flipping - There are a number of advantages to a property being the main residence at some point in the period of ownership as not only is any gain while the property is the only or main residence exempt from capital gains tax; the final period of ownership is also exempt. Where the property is let, occupying the property as a main residence at some point may open up the option of lettings relief (although it should be noted that the availability of lettings relief is to be seriously curtailed from April 2020).
Once an election has been made to nominate a property as a main residence, this can be varied any number of times (‘flipping’). This can be very useful from a tax planning perspective, for example, occupying a property as a main residence after it has been let but before it is sold can shelter some of the gain. Flipping properties and making use of the capital gains tax annual exempt amount to shelter any gain that falls into charge when the property is not the main residence can be beneficial in reducing the tax bill.
VAT registration – sooner or later?
Once a business is up and running, the next major administrative area to be faced often concerns the subject of VAT. At first glance, it looks complicated - not to mention time-consuming - particularly for small businesses. However, taken one step at a time, the rules governing VAT registration and invoicing are generally quite straight-forward and relatively easy to navigate.
The law states that all traders – whether sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies – are obliged to register to charge and pay VAT once their taxable turnover reaches a pre-set annual threshold, which is currently £85,000. Broadly, a business must register for VAT if:
• its taxable outputs, including zero-rates sales (but not exempt, non-business, or ‘outside the scope’ supplies), have exceeded the registration threshold in the previous 12 calendar months – unless the business can satisfy HMRC that its taxable supplies in the next 12 months will not exceed a figure £2,000 below the registration threshold (so currently £83,000); or
• there are reasonable grounds for believing that the business’s taxable outputs in the next 30 days will exceed the registration threshold; or
• the business takes over another business as a going concern, to which the two bullet points above apply.
A business can register for VAT voluntarily if its turnover is below the threshold and it may actually save tax by doing so, particularly if its main clients or customers are organisations that can reclaim VAT themselves.
Example - Sandra is a non-VAT registered carpenter and a basic rate taxpayer. She buys a new saw to use in her business, which cost £100 plus VAT, so she pays a total of £120 (£100 plus VAT at 20%), which can be set against her business profits for income tax purposes. As Sandra is a basic rate (20%) taxpayer, she will save tax of £24 (20% of £120), so the saw actually costs her £96. However, if the business is VAT-registered, the £20 VAT paid on the item (the input tax) can be reclaimed and £100 is set against business profits for income tax. The tax reduction is therefore £20 (20% of £100) and the saw actually costs him £80 – saving £16 by being registered for VAT.
Is non-registration preferable? - VAT-registered businesses supplying goods and services to private individuals often feel dis-advantaged compared with their non-registered counterparts because they have to charge an additional 20% on every bill issued.
A trader who does not want to have to register for VAT, may be able to stay below the annual VAT registration threshold by supplying labour-only services and getting customers to buy any goods needed themselves.
Example - Bob is a non-VAT registered plumber, but his turnover is creeping up towards the VAT registration threshold. He could ask his customers to buy materials for a job directly from a DIY shop. Although the customers will have to pay the VAT on these items, they won’t have to pay VAT on Bob’s invoice for labour services. This will also have the additional advantage of reducing Bob’s annual turnover for VAT registration purposes.
Registration benefits - Deciding whether to register for VAT voluntarily before the registration threshold is reached is a big decision that can have lasting implications for the financial health of the business. It is vital therefore, that the matter is given careful consideration. There are several positive reasons supporting voluntary registration, including:
• Reclaiming VAT - although a registered business will have to charge VAT on goods and services (known as charging ‘output tax’), it will also be able to reclaim VAT that it is charged by other businesses (known as ‘input tax’). Where input tax exceeds output tax in a given period, the business will generally be able to reclaim the difference from HMRC.
• Marketplace perceptions - some businesses choose to register for VAT in order to appear larger than they are. Customers are likely to be aware of the £85,000 registration threshold and where a business is not registered, its customers will know that the business turnover is lower than this. A business may therefore consider registration as a way of increasing its standing amongst competitors, and in the eyes of clients.
Salary v dividend for 2019/20
A popular profits extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to extract a small salary, taking further profits as dividends. Where this strategy is pursued for 2019/20, what level should be the salary be set at to ensure the strategy remain tax efficient?
As well as being tax effective, taking a small salary is also advantageous in that it allows the individual to secure a qualifying year for State Pension and contributory benefits purposes.
Assuming the personal allowance has not been used elsewhere and is available to set against the salary, the optimal salary level for 2019/20 depends on whether the employment allowance is available and whether the employee is under the age of 21. The employment allowance is set at £3,000 for 2019/20 but is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director (meaning that personal companies do not generally benefit).
In the absence of the employment allowance and where the individual is aged 21 or over, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary threshold, i.e. £8,632 a year (equivalent to £719 per month). At this level, no employee’s or employer’s National Insurance or tax is due. The salary is also deductible for corporation tax purposes. A bonus is that a salary at this level means that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes – for zero contribution cost. Beyond this level, it is better to take dividends than pay a higher salary as the combined National Insurance hit (25.8%) is higher than the corporation tax deduction for salary payments.
Where the employment allowance is available, or the employee is under 21, it is tax-efficient to pay a higher salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500. As long as the personal allowance is available, the salary will be tax free. It will also be free of employer’s National Insurance, either because the liability is offset by the employment allowance or, if the individual is under 21, because earnings are below the upper secondary threshold for under 21s (set at £50,000 for 2019/20). The salary paid in excess of the primary threshold (£3,868) will attract primary contributions of £464.16, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax saving on the additional salary of £734.92 – a net saving of £279.76. Once a salary equal to the personal allowance is reached, the benefit of the corporation tax deduction is lost as any further salary is taxable. It is tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends.
Dividends can only be paid if the company has sufficient retained profits available. Unlike salary payments, dividends are not tax-deductible and are paid out of profits on which corporation tax (at 19%) has already been paid.
However, dividends benefit from their own allowance – set at £2,000 for 2019/20 and payable to all individuals regardless of the rate at which they pay tax – and once the allowance has been used, dividends are taxed at lower rates than salary payments (7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1% rather than 20%, 40% and 45%).
Once the optimal salary has been paid, dividends should be paid to use up the dividend allowance. If further profits are to be extracted, there will be tax to pay, but the combined tax and National Insurance hit for dividends is less than for salary payments, making them the preferred option.
Domestic reverse VAT charge for construction services
The domestic reverse VAT charge for building and construction services was due to come into effect from 1 October 2019. However, in early September it was announced that the start date had been put back one year. As a result, the charge will now apply from 1 October 2020.
Who is affected? - The charge will affect individuals and businesses who are registered for VAT in the UK and who supply or receive specified services that are reported under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).
Nature of a reverse charge - The reverse charge means that the customer receiving the specified supply has to pay the VAT rather than the supplier. In turn, the customer can recover the VAT under the normal VAT recovery rules.
Supplies within the scope of the charge - The reverse charge will apply to supplies of building and construction services which are supplied at the standard or reduced rates that also need to be reported under the CIS. These are called specified supplies.
However, where materials are included within a service, the reverse charge applies to the whole amount. By contrast, where deductions are made from payments to subcontractors under the CIS, no deductions are made from any part of the payment that relates to material.
Move to monthly returns - The introduction of the reverse charge will mean that some businesses may become repayment traders claiming VAT back from HMRC rather than paying it over to HMRC. To aid cashflow and reduce the delay in claiming the VAT back, repayment traders can move to monthly returns.
Planning ahead - The delayed start date has given businesses an extra year to prepare for the charge. In order to be ready for its introduction, businesses within the CIS should:
• check whether the reverse charge will affect their sales, their purchases or both
• update their accounting systems and software to deal with the reverse charge from 1 October 2020
• consider whether the change will impact on cashflow
• ensure that staff who are responsible for VAT accounting are familiar with the reverse charge and how it will operate
Contractors should review their contracts with subcontractors to determine whether the reverse charge will apply to services received under the contract. Where it does, they will need to notify their suppliers.
Subcontractors will need to contact their customers to obtain confirmation from them as to whether the reverse charge will apply, and also whether the customer is an end user or intermediary supplier.
Impact of change of start date - HMRC recognise that the start date was changed at short notice and that businesses may have changed their invoices to meet the needs of the reverse charge and cannot easily change them back. Where errors arise as a result, HMRC will take the change of date into account.
Director’s salary or bonus?
Given current tax rates, paying a dividend rather than a salary will often be a more cost-effective way of withdrawing profits from a company. Tax is currently payable on any dividend income received over the £2,000 annual dividend allowance at the following rates:
• 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band (up to £37,500 in 2019-20)
• 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band (£37,501 to £150,000 in 2019-20)
• 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band (over £150,000 in 2019-20)
However, if the company is loss-making and has no retained profits, it will not be possible to declare a dividend, and an alternative will need to be considered. This often involves an increased salary or a one-off bonus payment.
From a tax perspective, the position will be the same whether a salary or bonus is paid. Both types of payment attract income tax at the recipient’s relevant rate of tax (20%, 40% or 45% as appropriate).
However, from a National Insurance Contributions (NICs) perspective, the position, and any potential cost savings, will depend on whether or not the payment is made to a director.
Directors have an annual earnings period for NIC purposes. Broadly, this means that NICs payable will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made in regular instalments or as a single lump sum bonus. In addition, since there is no upper limit of employer (secondary) NICs, the company’s position will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made by way of a salary or a bonus.
Where a bonus or salary payment is to be made to another family member who is not a director, the earnings period rules mean that it may be possible to save employees’ NICs by paying a one-off bonus rather than a regular salary.
Example - Henry is the sole director of a company and an equal 50% shareholder with his wife Susan. In 2019/20 they each receive a salary of £720 per month.
In the year ended 31 March 2020, the company makes profits of £24,000 (after paying the salaries). The profits are to be shared equally between Henry and Susan. They want to know whether it will be more cost effective to extract the profits as an additional salary – each receiving an additional £1,000 per month for the next twelve months - or as a one-off bonus payment with each receiving £12,000.
The income tax position will be the same regardless of which method is used.
As Henry is a director, his NIC position will be the same regardless of which route is taken as he has an annual earnings period for NIC purposes.
Susan is not a director, so the normal earnings period for NIC in a month will be the interval in which her existing salary is paid.
Assuming NIC rates and thresholds remain the same in 2020/21, if Susan receives an additional salary of £1,000 a month, she will pay Class 1 NIC of £120 (£1,000 x 12%) a month on that additional salary. Her annual NIC bill on the additional salary of £12,000 will be £1,440.
However, if she receives a lump sum bonus of £12,000 in one month (in addition to her normal monthly salary of £720), she will pay NIC on the bonus of £585 ((£3,450 x 12%) + (£8,550 x 2%)).
Paying a bonus instead of a salary reduces Susan’s NIC bill by £855.
Finally, it is important to note that in determining an effective company profit extraction strategy, tax should never be the only consideration. Any profit extraction strategy should be consistent with the wider goals and aims of the company.
Private residence relief and the final period exemption
From a capital gains tax perspective, there are significant tax savings to be had if a property has been the owner’s only or main residence. The main gains are where the property has been the only or main residence throughout the whole period of ownership as private residence relief applies in full to shelter any gain arising on the disposal of the property from capital gains tax.
However, there are also advantages if a property enjoys only or main residence status for part of the ownership period; not only are any gains relating to that period sheltered from capital gains tax, but those covered by the final period exemption are also tax-free.
The final period exemption works to shelter any gain arising in the final period of ownership from capital gains tax if the property has at any time, however briefly, been the owner’s only or main residence. This can be particularly useful if the property is, say, lived in as a main home and then let out prior to being sold, or where a person has two or more residences.
Prior to 6 April 2020, the final period exemption applies generally to the last 18 months of ownership. Where the person making the disposal is a disabled person or a long-term resident in a care home, the final period exemption applies to the last 36 months of ownership.
From 6 April 2020, the final period exemption is reduced to nine months, although it will remain at 36 months for care home residents and disabled persons.
Where a property which has been occupied as a main residence at some point, it could be very advantageous to dispose of it prior to 6 April 2020 rather than after that date to benefit from the longer final period exemption.
Frankie has a cottage on the coast that he brought on 1 January 2010 for £200,000. He lived in it as his main residence for two years until 31 December 2011, when he purchased a city flat which has been his main residence since that date. He continues to use the cottage as a holiday home.
He plans to sell the cottage and expects to get £320,000.
Scenario 1 – sale on 31 March 2020
If Frankie sells the cottage on 31 March 2020, he will have owned the cottage for a total of 10 years and three months (123 months). Of that period, he lived in it for 24 months as his only or main residence. As the sale takes place prior to 6 April 2020, he will benefit from the final period exemption for the last 18 months.
The gain on sale is £120,000 (£320,000 - £200,000)
He qualifies for 42 months’ private residence relief, which is worth £40,976 (42/123 x £120,000).
The chargeable gain is therefore £79,024 (£120,000 - £40,976).
Scenario 2 – sale on 30 April 2020
If Frankie does not sell the property until 30 April 2020, he will only benefit from a nine-month final period exemption. If he sells on this date, he will have owned the property for 124 months. Assuming the sale price remains at £320,000 and the gain at £120,000, the gain which is sheltered by private residence relief is £31,935 (33/124 x £120,000), and the chargeable gain is increased to £88,065 (£120,000 - £31,935).
If planning to dispose of a property which has been an only or main residence for some but not all of the period of ownership, selling prior to 6 April 2020 will enable the owner to shelter the gain pertaining to the last 18 months of ownership.
Buying a property to let – the importance of keeping records
For tax purposes, good record keeping is essential. Without complete and accurate records, it will not be possible to provide correct details of taxable income or to benefit from allowable deductions. Aside from the risk of paying more tax than is necessary, landlords who fail to take their record keeping obligations seriously may also find that they are on the receiving end of a penalty from HMRC.
Recording expenses - A deduction is available for expenses that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the rental business. A deduction is available for qualifying revenue expenses regardless of whether the accounts are prepared on the cash basis or under the traditional accruals basis.
Revenue expenses are varied and are those expenses incurred in the day to day running of the property rental business. They include:
• office expenses • phone calls • cost of advertising for tenants • fees paid to a managing agent • cleaning costs • insurance • general maintenance and repairs
A record should be kept of all revenue expenses, supported by invoices, receipts and suchlike.
The treatment of capital expenditure depends on whether the cash or the accruals basis is used. For most smaller landlords, the cash basis is now the default basis.
Under the cash basis, capital expenditure can be deducted unless the disallowance is specifically prohibited (as in the case in relation to cars and land and property). Under the accruals basis, a deduction is not given for capital expenditure, although in limited cases capital allowances may be available. Capital expenditure would include improvements to the property and new furniture or equipment which does not replace old items.
Records should identify whether expenditure is capital or revenue and also whether it relates to private expenditure so that it can be excluded.
Records should also be kept of replacement domestic items and the nature of those items. A deduction is available on a like-for-like basis.
Start date - Although the property rental business does not start until the property is first let, records should start as soon as expenditure is incurred in preparation for the letting.
As well as allowing relief for expenses incurred while the property is let, relief is also available for expenses which are related to the property rental business and which are incurred in the seven years prior to the start of the business. Relief is given on the same basis as for expenses incurred after the start of the property rental business; expenses can be deducted as long as they are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the property rental business. Capital expenditure is treated in accordance with rules applying to the chosen basis of accounts preparation.
Relief is available under the pre-trading rules, as long as:
• the expenditure is incurred within a period of seven years before the date on which the rental business started
• the expenditure is not otherwise allowable as a deduction for tax purposes
• the expenditure would have been allowed as a deduction has it been incurred after the rental business had started
Relief is given by treating the expenses as if they were incurred on the first day of the property rental business.
Expenses incurred in getting a property ready to let can be significant. It is important that accurate records are kept of all expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the let from the outset so that valuable deductions are not overlooked.
Capital gains tax and chattels
For capital gains tax purposes, not all chattels are equal. In some cases, it is possible to realise a profit on the disposal of a chattel and enjoy that profit tax free, whereas in other cases, capital gains tax must be paid. It all depends on whether the chattel is a wasting chattel or a non-wasting chattel, and where it falls in the latter camp, the amount of the disposal proceeds.
What is a chattel? - The word ‘chattel’ is a legal term that means an item of tangible movable property. This covers personal possessions, including items of household furniture, paintings and antiques, cars, motorcycles. Items of plant and machinery which are not fixed to a building are also chattels.
Exemption for cars - Private cars and other passenger vehicles are exempt from capital gains tax.
Wasting assets - A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life of 50 years or less. Certain chattels are always treated as wasting assets, such as plant or machinery.
A gain or loss on a disposal of a wasting chattel is exempt from capital gains tax unless capital allowances have or could have been claimed on the asset. Capital gains tax also applies if a chattel with a predictable life of more than 50 years is loaned to a business which uses it as plant.
Non-wasting chattels - Chattels with a predictable life of more than 50 years are non-wasting chattels. This would include paintings and jewellery.
The capital gains tax position depends on the sale proceeds.
Chattels exemption – proceeds £6,000 or less
An exemption - the chattels exemptions – applies if a gain arises on the disposal of a chattel and the disposal proceeds do not exceed £6,000.
Example 1 - Max purchases a painting from an unknown artist for £300. The artist becomes popular and Max sells the painting for £5,000, realising a gain of £4,700.
As the disposal proceeds are less than £6,000, the chattels exemption applies, and the gain is exempt from capital gains tax.
Chattels exemption – proceeds more than £6,000
Where the proceeds are more than £6,000, the gain is reduced by five-thirds of the difference between the amount of the consideration and £6,000.
Where the disposal proceeds are more than £15,000, the maximum gain will exceed the actual gain, so the relief is not in point.
Example 2 - Ruby acquires an antique brooch for £3,000. It becomes a collectible item and she sells it for £10,000.
The maximum chargeable gain is 5/3 (£10,000 - £6,000) = £6,667
The actual gain is £7,000. As this exceeds the maximum permitted gain, the chargeable gain is £6,667.
Losses - In the same way that the exemption operates to reduce the chargeable gain, it also caps the allowable loss. If a loss arises and the consideration on disposal is less than £6,000, it is deemed to be £6,000 for the purposes of computing the loss.
Example 3 - Lola buys a painting for £7,000 which turns out to be a fake. She is able to sell it for £100, realising an actual loss of £6,900.
However, in computing the allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes, the consideration is deemed to be £6,000. The allowable loss is therefore £1,000 (£6,000 - £7,000) rather than £6,900.
Sets of chattels - Special rules apply to sets of chattels. This is to prevent people from artificially splitting a set worth more than £6,000 and selling each item separately to the same person for less than £6,000 each to benefit from the chattels exemption. The anti-avoidance provisions work to treat the set as a single asset in respect of which only one £6,000 limit is allowed.
Dying without making a will – who gets what
The best way to ensure that your estate is passed on in accordance with your wishes is to make a will. However, even with the best of intentions, it may happen that someone dies without making a will, particularly where the death was sudden and unexpected.
Where there is no will, the estate is divided up in accordance with the rules of intestacy. It is sensible to know what these are. Where the rules will give an outcome which is quite different to the desired one, a will should be made without delay.
Married couples and civil partners - Married couple and civil partners inherit under the intestacy rules if they are still married at the time of death. Spouses and partners who have separated but not divorced or dissolved their partnership can also inherit under the intestacy rules.
Where there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren and the estate is worth more than £250,000, the partner will inherit:
• all personal property and belongings of the deceased
• the first £250,000 of the estate
• half of the remaining estate
If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, the partner will inherit all the personal property and belongings of the deceased and the whole of the estate with interest from the date of death.
Children - If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the children will inherit the whole estate, divided equally between them where there are two or more children.
If there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, the children will only inherit if the estate is worth more than £250,000. The children will inherit one half of the estate to the extent that it is worth more than £250,000, divided equally between them.
All the children of the parent inherit equally from the estate, regardless of whether they are from the same or different relationships.
Children receive their inheritance on reaching the age of 18 or marrying or entering a civil partnership if earlier.
Grandchildren and great grandchildren - Children and great grandchildren only inherit under the intestacy rules if their parent or grandparent has died before the parent or grandparent. The grandchildren and great grandchildren inherit the share to which their parent or grandparent would have been entitled.
Other close relatives - If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren or greatgrandchildren, other close relatives may inherit under the intestacy rules. The order in which relatives inherit is as follows: spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts.
Exclusions - The intestacy rules make no provision for partners who are not married to or in a civil partnership with the deceased, regardless of whether they co-habit. Relations by marriage, stepchildren or stepparents, close friends and carers are also excluded.
No surviving relatives - If there are no surviving relatives, the estate passes to the Crown under the rules of intestacy. This is known as 'bona vacantia'.
Changing the outcome - As long as all the beneficiaries agree, an arrangement can be made which will allow the estate to be divided up other than as provided for under the intestacy rules, allowing someone who is excluded under the intestacy provisions, such as a stepchild, to benefit. This can be achieved by a Deed of Family Arrangement.
A person may also be able to make an application to the court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if they were dependant on the deceased when they passed away but do not inherit under the intestacy rules, for example, an unmarried partner.
Optimising tax-free benefits in family companies
Making use of statutory exemptions for certain benefits-in-kind offers an opportunity to extract funds from a family company without triggering a tax charge.
The essential point to note is that to make the tax saving, the benefit itself, rather than the funds with which to buy the benefit, must be provided.
Mobiles - No tax charge arises where an employer provides an employee with a mobile phone, irrespective of the level of private use. The exemption applies to one phone per employee.
A taxable benefit will however, arise if the employer meets the employee's private bill for a mobile phone or if top-up vouchers are provided which can be used on any phone
Example - John and Jan Smith are directors of their family-owned company. Their two children also work for the company. The company takes out a contract for four mobile phones and provides each member of the family with a phone. The bills are paid directly to the phone provider by the company. The bills are deductible in computing profits. Each family member receives the use of a phone tax-free, which means they do not need to fund one from their post-tax income.
Pension contributions - Pensions remain a particularly tax-efficient form of savings since nearly everyone is entitled to receive relief on contributions up to an annual maximum regardless of whether they pay tax or not. The maximum amount on which a non-taxpayer can currently receive basic rate tax relief is £3,600. So an individual can pay in £2,880 a year, but £3,600 will be the amount actually invested by the pension provider. Higher amounts may be invested, but tax relief will not be given on the excess. Any tax relief received from HMRC on excess contributions may have to be repaid.
Pension contributions paid by a company in respect of its directors or employees are allowable unless there is an identifiable non-trade purpose. Contributions relating to a controlling director (one who owns more than 20% of the company’s share capital), or an employee who is a relative or close friend of the controlling director, may be queried by HMRC. In establishing whether a payment is for the purposes of the trade, HMRC will examine the company’s intentions in making the payment.
Pension contributions will be viewed in the light of the overall remuneration package and if the level of the package is excessive for the value of the work undertaken, the contributions may be disallowed. However, HMRC will generally accept that contributions are paid ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’ where the remuneration package paid is comparable with that paid to unconnected employees performing duties of similar value.
Subject to certain conditions being satisfied, other tax-free benefits that a family company may consider include:
• bicycles or bicycle safety equipment for travel to work
• gifts not costing more than £250 per year from any one donor
• Christmas and other parties, dinners, etc, provided the total cost to the employer for each person attending is not more than £150 a year
• one health screening and one medical check-up per employee, per year
• the first £500 worth of pensions advice provided to an employee (including former and prospective employees) in a tax year
• medical treatments recommended by employer-arranged occupational health services. The exemption is subject to an annual cap of £500 per employee
Employing family members, and providing them tax-free benefits, often enables a family-owned company to take advantage of the lower tax rates, personal allowances and exemptions that may be available to a spouse, civil partner, or children. In turn, this arrangement can help reduce the household’s overall tax bill.
When is a car a pool car?
Rather than allocating specific cars to particular employees, some employers find it preferable to operate a carpool and have a number of cars available for use by employees when they need to undertake a business journey. From a tax perspective, provided that certain conditions are met, no benefit in kind tax charge will arise where an employee makes use of a pool car.
There are five conditions that must be met for a car to be treated as a pool car for tax purposes.
1. The car is made available to, and actually is used by, more than one employee.
2. In each case, it is made available by reason of the employee’s employment.
3. The car is not ordinarily used by one employee to the exclusion of the others.
4. In each case, any private use by the employee is merely incidental to the employee’s business use of the car.
5. The car is not normally kept overnight on or in the vicinity of any of the residential premises where any of the employees was residing (subject to an exception if kept overnight on premises occupied by the person making the cars available).
The tax exemption only applies if all five conditions are met.
When private use is ‘merely incidental’
To meet the definition of a pool car, the car should only be available for genuine business use. However, in deciding whether this test is met, private use is disregarded as long as that private use is ‘merely incidental’ to the employee’s business use of the car.
HMRC regard the test as being a qualitative rather than a quantitative test. It does not refer to the actual private mileage, rather the private element in the context of the journey as a whole. For example, if an employee is required to make a long business journey and takes the car home the previous evening in order to get an early start, the private use comprising the journey from work to home the previous evening would be regarded as ‘merely incidental’. The car is taken home to facilitate the business journey the following day.
Kept overnight at employee’s homes – the 60% test
For a car to meet the definition of a pool car, it must not normally be kept overnight at employees’ homes. In deciding whether this test is met, HMRC apply a rule of thumb – as long as the total number of nights on which a car is taken home by employees, for whatever reason, is less than 60% of the total number of nights in the period, HMRC accept that the condition is met.
When a benefit in kind tax charge arises
If the car does not meet the definition of a pool car and is made available for the employee’s private use, a tax charge will arise under the company car tax rules.
Curtailment of letting relief
Landlords have been hit with a number of tax hikes in recent years, and this trend shows no signs of abating. From 6 April 2020, lettings relief – a valuable capital gains tax relief which is available where a property which has at some point been the owner’s only or main residence is let out – is seriously curtailed.
Now - Under the current rules letting relief applies to shelter part of the gain arising on the sale of a property which has been let out as residential accommodation and which at some time was the owner’s only or main residence. The amount of the letting relief is the lowest of the following three amounts:
• the amount of private residence relief available on the disposal;
• £40,000; and
• the gain attributable to the letting.
Under the current rules, periods of residential letting count regardless of whether or not the landlord also lives in the property.
From 6 April 2020 - From 6 April 2020, letting relief will only be available where the owner of the property shares occupancy with a tenant. From that date, lettings relief is available where at some point the owner of the property lets out part of their main residence as residential accommodation and shares occupation of that residence with an individual who has no interest in the residence.
To the extent that a gain that would otherwise be chargeable to capital gains tax because it relates to the part of the main residence which is let out as residential accommodation, the availability of lettings relief means that it is only chargeable to capital gains tax to the extent that it exceeds the lower of the amount of the gain sheltered by private residence relief; and £40,000.
Example 1 - Tom owns a property which he lives in as his main residence. He lived in it for a year on his own, then to help pay the bills he let out 40% as residential accommodation.
In June 2020 he sells the property realising a gain of £189,000. He had owned the property for five years and three months (63 months).
The final nine months of ownership are covered by the final period exemption – this equates to £27,000.
For the remaining 54 months, private residence relief is available for the first 12 months and 40% of the remaining 48 months – a total of 31.2 months (12 + (40% x 48)). This is worth £93,600. (31.2/63 x £189,000).
Private residence relief in total is worth £120,600 (£27,000 + £93,600).
The gain attributable to the letting is £68,400 (£189,000 - £120,600). This is taxable to the extent that is exceeds £40,000 (being the lower of £40,000 and £120,600).
Thus the letting relief is worth £40,000 and the chargeable gain is £28,400.
Example 2 - Lucy buys a flat for £300,000 which she lives in for one year as her main residence. She then buys a new home which she lives in as her main residence and lets the flat out for three years, before selling it and realising a gain of £96,000.
If she sells it before 6 April 2020, she will be entitled to private residence relief of £60,000 (30/48 x £96,000). The final 18 months are exempt as she lived in the flat for 12 months as her main residence. The gain attributable to letting is £36,000, all of which is sheltered by lettings relief (as less than both private residence relief and £40,000).
If she sells the property after 6 April 2020, the final period exemption only covers the last nine months, reducing the private residence relief to £42,000 (21/48 x £96,000). The remainder of the gain of £54,000, which is attributable to the letting, is chargeable to capital gains tax as letting relief is no longer available as Lucy does not share her home with the tenant.
Consider realising a gain on a let property which has also been a main residence prior to 6 April 2020 to take advantage of the letting relief available prior to that date.
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